UK Critics Consensus: Is Ghost Town Going Down? Does High School Musical 3 Make The Grade?

Plus, is Incendiary a Blast?

by | October 24, 2008 | Comments

Hitting the UK cinemas this week we have Ricky Gervais as a dentist who sees dead people in the comedy Ghost Town, the long awaited big screen debut for the Disney behemoth that is High School Musical 3, and on a slightly less fluffy note we have a young mother who sees her husband and son killed in a terrorist attack in Incendiary. But what did the UK critics have to say?

Ricky Gervais boasts a proud record of two hugely successful TV series with The Office and Extras, pioneering and record-breaking podcasts with Stephen Merchant and the legendary Karl ‘Head Like A ****ing Orange’ Pilkington, a range of critically acclaimed childrens books with the Flanimals, three sellout stand-up shows, and most recently a few minor, but well received roles in Hollywood films Night At The Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. But how would he fare in his first starring role as misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus, who discovers he can communicate with the dead after dying for seven minutes during a botched medical procedure? With the movie Certified Fresh at 85% on the Tomatometer, UK critics reflected what their American counterparts had said about the movie, praising Gervais for his enjoyable, sharp and witty performance as the spirit spotting teeth tyrant, which elevates the film above its possibly creaky concept into, what some of the critics are saying, one of the rom-coms of the year. Up next for Gervais is This Side Of Truth, due for release next year, a comedy in which he not only stars, but he has written, and co-directed, so we will see if we can add auteur to his already glittering CV.

If you are aged over the age of 14, you may find the whole High School Musical phenomenon slightly bewildering, but with ticket pre-sales for the threequel, the first cinematic outing for the smash hit series, breaking box-office records, there is no denying that Disney have a monster on their hands. Teen heartthrobs Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens reprise their roles as Troy and Gabriella, in the final year at East High School, with university looming, the couple have to face up for a possible future apart. UK critics praised the movie for its slick production, feel good factor, and positive messages, but on the whole the jaded critics felt underwhelmed by it’s saccharine lightweight nature, predictable plot and sanitised vision of high school life. But even at a Rotten 58% on the Tomatometer, we’ve no doubt that the critical reception for HSM3 will have no bearing whatsoever on its box office takings come half term week.

Incendiary is directed by Sharon Maguire who previously helmed Bridget Jones Diary and is an adaptation of a novel by Chris Cleave. The novel was notable for its release on 7/7/05, the day of the London bombing atrocities, as it also deals with a terrorist bomb plot in London. Michelle Williams stars as a young mother who’s life is torn apart when her son and husband are killed in a bomb blast at the Arsenal football stadium, who seeks solace in her grief with Ewan McGregor‘s reporter character. The critics have praised Williams’ earnest portrayal as the mourning mother in the well-natured drama, but on the whole the movie has been dismissed for its unrealistic portrayal of modern London, far-fecthed nature and cliché ridden plot. At 26% on the Tomatometer, Incendiary is more of a misfire than a blast off.

Also worth checking out this week…

Chocolate — A tough, uncompromising, real stunt, Thai Kung Fu flick, with a slushy plot but badass fight scenes. 69% on the Tomatometer.

Quote Of The Week

“Committed acting, cast chemistry and the odd touching moment just about save you from checking whether this was actually produced by Bernard Matthews.”

Incendiary. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

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